Gospel Lectio Divina for Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time - November 13, 2022
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, "All that you see here--the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."
Then they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?" He answered, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The time has come.' Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
"Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives."
the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone
How true this is of all things. I worry about how much money, how many relationships, how much influence I could lose in the decisions I make. But in the end all of it will fade and the only thing that will be left is God. All on earth is vanity, and Jesus is urging us to look to heaven–the everlasting kingdom “where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
What time is Jesus talking about here? The history of humanity since his ascension to heaven has surely been filled with wars, earthquakes, famines, and even–one can argue–awesome sights and mighty signs from the sky. The dancing sun at Fatima comes to mind for the latter. If he is talking about the current age of history, then he may come any day. We are taught to keep this in mind and be ready. But how? We are told to persevere in faith. If that is the case, then every sign from God is like a breath of oxygen. In these times, when faith in God is so faint, we need to believe in order to see. We need to see everything as a sign, because that is how often we need to be reminded that Christ is coming back.
I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
If only I could receive this wisdom always, not just when I face my adversaries. Solomon asked for wisdom from God and received it. Perhaps we can too. Scripture says wisdom cries out, and no one hears her voice:
Wisdom cries aloud in the street;
in the markets she raises her voice;
on the top of the walls she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
behold, I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused to listen.
If only we chose to listen to wisdom on a daily basis, rather than the superficial advice of the world that prefers profit over the prophets. Jesus is prophesying in this week’s gospel. He is telling us of things to come, of the coming age when he will return, when the faithful will be prosecuted. He was right. All that he said has come to pass, and he may come back any day. Will we heed his portent?
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.
Shortly before saying this, Jesus says, “Some of you will be put to death.” So, is he contradicting himself? How can he promise that by perseverance we will secure our lives if some of us may be put to death if we follow him?
The implication is that he is talking about eternal life. We will secure eternal life if we persevere in faith. For us, life and death seem like opposites. But to Jesus, death leads to life when we persevere in faith in him. “By your perseverance you will secure your lives”, then, is a conviction to persevere even in the face of death. This can be taken to mean physical death or spiritual death. We are also called to die to ourselves, to let go of our past lives and anything we hold dear that is keeping us from God. This kind of death is a way of shedding our burdens so we can take up Jesus’ yoke with him, a yoke that is easy because he gives us inner peace.
Even when you walked the earth, people hoped for your return. Our hope for heaven is palpable and insatiable in this life. The hereafter and the here-beyond are mysteries to us, but it is the mystery that sustains us. Your mysteries are more intriguing, more truthful, more inspiring than the answers of men that tend to just beg the questions. The mystery of what will happen, when you’ll return, how you’ll return, keeps us searching. And oh, the search–dear Lord–how sweet and rewarding it is even in this life! I can only imagine how sweet that revelation will be when we finally do reach heaven and see you face to face. Help prepare me for the day. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
It’s been said that heaven is just like here, the only difference being that God’s presence is more perceivable. That is what is missing here on earth, after all: God’s perceivable presence. It is his presence that gives us hope. Even if we don’t believe God exists, we need to believe because without him there is no hope. If we do perceive his presence, it is our duty to share that faith with others, to give them reasons to believe. Some of our reasons could be arrived at by reason itself. Other reasons will be of the heart. As Blaise Pascal said, “The heart has reasons that reason knows not.” Sometimes Jesus’ words don’t make sense. His prophecy today may leave us scratching our heads at times. But our heart knows he is right. Our heart knows that this world and this life are not the only thing God has in store for us. We are waiting. The more we listen to God and for God, the more he will sustain our hope and the easier the waiting will become.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
David Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey. He received his undergrad degree in humanities and Catholic culture from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. In addition to working with the Knights of the Holy Eucharist (knights.org), he has served as a journalist for Princeton Packet Publications, and the Trenton Monitor, the magazine for the Diocese of Trenton. Some of his published work can also be found in St. Anthony Messenger, Catholic Herald (UK), and Catholic World Report. For the latter he is managing editor. Find more of his writing at ramblingspirit.com.